Trash trails a stinking frustration


Advertise with us

In a snow-covered back lane near city hall, a dumpster behind an apartment block is overflowing and there are piles of trash on the fringes of backyards every few metres.

Read this article for free:


Already have an account? Log in here »

To continue reading, please subscribe:

Monthly Digital Subscription

$4.75 per week*

  • Enjoy unlimited reading on
  • Read the E-Edition, our digital replica newspaper
  • Access News Break, our award-winning app
  • Play interactive puzzles

*Billed as $19.00 plus GST every four weeks. Cancel anytime.

In a snow-covered back lane near city hall, a dumpster behind an apartment block is overflowing and there are piles of trash on the fringes of backyards every few metres.

Business owner Irving Halprin is fed up with the constant sight — and its health and safety hazards — in the alley near William Avenue and Isabel Street in Winnipeg’s Centennial neighbourhood.

“In the last five or six years, it’s gotten worse,” Halprin said at his arcade game repair shop Wednesday afternoon. “There’s always broken glass and needles.”

A few hours after he spoke to the Free Press, firefighters hosed down garbage, including a mattress, that was burning in or around the dumpster behind the apartment building.

Halprin said waste is constantly spilling out of and piling up around the dumpster, with loose garbage being blown around by the wind.

The mess in the alley usually gets worse in spring when the weather improves and there is more foot traffic, he noted.

The building’s caretaker referred a reporter to Clearwater Management, which declined to comment.

Halprin wants to see more efforts to clean up back lanes and crack down on property owners who use private contractors but allow trash to pile up through infrequent collection.

“It would be nice to see the offenders fined,” he said, noting more supports are needed for vulnerable people, including those who go through garbage and recycling bins.

He installed locks on his carts to prevent the contents from being dumped on the ground and rummaged through, after multiple incidents. Last year, he spent $500 to clean up other people’s waste behind the shop he has owned for about three decades.

“I don’t really feel that good about spending my own money on something the city should be handling,” said Halprin.

Two abandoned properties nearby have become problem spots. One is located across the alley from his shop.

On Wednesday, birds picked through a mound of rubbish made up of fast food containers, pizza boxes, plastic bottles and household items behind the abandoned house.

The garbage piles often contain clothing, diapers, used toilet paper and metal shopping carts, Halprin said.

Earlier this week, a potential renter for his commercial space lost interest after driving down the back lane and seeing the mess, he said.

Halprin usually directs his complaints to Coun. Vivian Santos’s office after growing tired of waiting on hold when he calls 311.

His latest complaint to Santos was forwarded to City of Winnipeg bylaw enforcement and public works for an “immediate” clean up, according to an email he received from her executive assistant.

Santos (Point Douglas) did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Within days of trash being cleaned up, however, it starts piling up again, said Halprin.

Some of his concerns could be addressed after city hall’s water, waste and environment committee Monday approved a motion asking staff to prepare a garbage-management plan for multi-family buildings in older neighbourhoods such as Centennial.

If approved, building owners would be required to have a minimum number of garbage bins on their property and adequate collection service, whether it is municipal or private.

Coun. Cindy Gilroy (Daniel McIntyre) moved the motion after trash accumulated outside an apartment building — attracting rodents — which didn’t have bins and had private collection.

After receiving complaints, there was no mechanism for the city to ensure residents have proper carts or bins, said Gilroy.

She also wants unpaid fines to be added to property tax bills rather than go to collection agencies. “I want it to go on the property tax bill, so these owners are held accountable,” said Gilroy.

The councillor said waste that is piled or scattered in back lanes or on vacant properties has a negative impact on a neighbourhood’s quality of life.

It has become a problem in areas or buildings where residents frequently move in and out and leave belongings behind or there are issues such as hoarding or illegal dumping, she said.

The situation also highlights the need to provide more supports to people experiencing issues such as homelessness, mental health or addictions, Gilroy said.

Twitter: @chriskitching

Chris Kitching

As a general assignment reporter, Chris covers a little bit of everything for the Free Press.

Report Error Submit a Tip


Advertise With Us